Just yesterday, for the umpteen time, it was confirmed - the world is brilliant!
Rain was forecast - no rain, a good start.
Cloudy, breezy (the latter not forecast), dull and mild. What more could the springtime angler and naturalist wish for?
Arriving at the extreme eastern end of the North Oxford Canal at (just after) dawn, ('forgot my wallet...no one's perfect) I wandered to various legally(?) fishable spots, as defined by CRT signage but fancied none except an area which was otherwise strewn with waterborne detritus. So I settled instead in an area I recalled had produced match-winning bags of up to 5 or 6lbs of caster roach back in the 'dim and distant', a spot usually precluded as an option these days due to moorings but by chance no one was making it their home today
The action was as instant and frantic as Sunday had been with good bream to over two and a half pounds and hybrids to over the pound immediately taking advantage of the bread windfall. For me of course the net of just short of 13lbs was however capped by a roach of 1-1-3 (photo above) but, the weirdest thing - a dress-making pin with a white head was protruding centrally through the lower jaw of one of the bream (it may have been the biggest one, I don't recall) with the head inside its mouth. The pin, protruding below like a rigid elongated barbule, left me initially thinking I had a first for science cyprinid, but no! So long had the grotesque adornment been there that the wound had healed like a well-established ear piercing. How this could have occurred is quite beyond the imagination
It has been clear to me since last spring that the good fish reside in the marinas and only exit in numbers to spawn; this is now underway and slowly I expect the shoals to be more prevalent away from those winter harbours of fish and boats until they then start to retreat again later in the year, especially it seems as the colour drops out
Greenfinches were trilling their exuberant song from some willows, reed bunting 'tested' and fresh otter spraint was to be found under the bridge
The morning had begun, and apparently ended, in just half an hour and so based on the absolute fact that this method is all or nothing I moved 200 yards and on the way passed a pound roach dragged from the water that very night by a predator of some sort, maybe the otter, "This might perhaps be a clue", I muttered to myself and sat down immediately beyond in the hope that the red-finned brethren remained
Sure enough, up popped the float and a definite and solid roach was identified from the fight. A flash of it under the water caused me to swear aloud as the enormity of the potential catch dawned. Try though it might to get into nearside roots the new rod had it neatly tamed and into the net it slid
No time to waste here as the fish was photographed, weighed and returned in a matter of minutes. At 1-9-4 it was the third biggest canal roach of the FF&F quest by just 7 drams and would prove the highlight of a day littered with noteworthy events and peculiarities.
This time the action was slower but after fifteen minutes, sat among the blooming violets, a bite came and another really good roach at 1-1-10 graced the net before it was immediately released after a quick weighing and an approaching boat drew a chug-chugging curtain across proceedings
Wandering back, two mating frogs were in the margins; very odd on a busy motorway of a canal such as this. Very rarely have I seen frogs on canals and then just the odd apparent commuter
Come the evening Parps fancied a dabble and so we chose a relatively plain but easily accessible stretch of the Grand Union in the hope of a bream for him and, in his now customary style, he beat me in three of our four challenges - most fish, highest weight and most species. The latter was debatable but because my third species was a hybrid he won that on grounds of purity! That his species included a first for him in the shape of a small silver bream and then an immediate replacement pb at 8ozs added to the allure as he beamed with pleasure throughout the session, even when he lost a couple of fish. We shared a keepnet in fishing the same swim and mustered 9-13-0 between us in two hours.
Chiffchaffs chiffed and chaffed around us, partridges chucka'd and magpies chacked as a robin persevered through it all with his wistful song from high in a hawthorn to our left.
We pondered the sounds of the natural world:
"If you stop talking and just listen for a moment can you hear any sign of human activity?", I said, "No I can't!", came the reply.
"Sometimes when I sit here I think how great it would be not to be able to hear traffic noise but it's very unusual for it to be this quiet"
"Yes you wouldn't really know humans were around would you?".
"Well no, apart from the canal, the fence, the cables, the road and the fact that 5000 years ago this would have been woodland, you wouldn't have a clue would you?!"
The smell of spring is now around us as herbage is trampled under foot to create comfortable pegs but the pleasure of it all was lost on two lorry drivers I encountered earlier in the day who all-but engaged in a brawl in the middle of the A45, entertaining - yes, wise - no
So, if Carlsberg made days this is the kind of day they would make. Enthralling from start to finish, but sleep is in desperate need. Goodnight all